Or, ‘Life lessons’
DON’T ask a woman if she’s pregnant. Ever. If you remember this, you can never go wrong.
But what if it’s obvious, you say? If it’s obvious, THEN YOU DON’T HAVE TO ASK.
Guess who in our family has violated this rule? Not me! That would be my wife. WHO SHOULD KNOW BETTER. And she did it while she was pregnant, to a coworker who was NOT.
One of the other things I learned is that many parents-to-be usually don’t tell until 12 weeks along (the first trimester), which is about when eagle-eyed friends might be able to notice anyway. (The risk of miscarriage is highest in the first trimester, so the thinking is don’t tell, and if you miscarry, no one knows. I think this blog makes a good argument against that logic, though.) Some people let on fairly early, some wait. The point is, if you don’t ask, you’ll never offend.
DO give up your seat on the subway to a pregnant woman. It’s just what you do. I don’t have to tell women that. From what my wife says, 70 percent of the people who gave up their seats to her were women. Men, you are dogs. And you are missing out on an opportunity here. Next time you think about “READING” REALLY HARD to ignore the pregnant lady in front of you, look around the subway car. Is there a cute girl nearby? She’ll think you’re a real stand-up guy if you give up your seat. Parlay that good deed into a phone number.
That said, graphic designer Elizabeth Carey Smith (The Letter Office) spent four months noting who gave up seats to her when she was pregnant, and her numbers showed that men were more likely to swap seats (chart at right). It’s interesting to see how the split plays out on the city’s different subway lines. Check out the line-by-line breakdown on the full chart here.
(What would be even more interesting is to chart this by race. My wife’s feeling was that white men were the least likely to give up a seat, that women of all races almost always gave it up, and that men of color did more so than honkeys.)
I do think there’s a gray area here. There’s that certain period of pregnancy, maybe around 3 months, where she could either be “with child” or, how shall I put this? … just a little paunchy. (See photo above.) If you find such a woman standing in front of you while you’re seated on the train, I think it’s perfectly OK not to offer the seat. My wife said she didn’t mind if guys* didn’t give up a seat to her during this awkward stage. She wasn’t big enough to be uncomfortable yet. As someone who has refrained from standing in this situation, I like to think the woman understands. I’m just trying not to embarrass anyone (myself or a paunchy non-pregnant lady).
If you feel a bit scummy about just sitting there, then get up to fake-consult the subway map and don’t return to your seat.
DON’T ask or comment about the following:
- Delivery method (C-section, natural birth, water birth, home birth, underwater basket birth): This is often very personal, because there are many different opinions and world views around the various methods. And many of those opinions would have you believe you’re irreparably damaging your baby from the get-go if you don’t use X-method. People can get touchy and defensive if you criticize their delivery method. Just refrain from asking. Or, if you do, don’t comment
- Circumcision: I’m not a huge fan of this practice. And if our baby had been a boy, we weren’t going to have him circumcised. I think it’s a crazy, useless practice based on ancient hokum. But I would never tell any of my friends that. (And since none of them read Kubaby—because no one reads Kubaby—my secret is still safe)
- Whether mom- or dad-to-be prefers a boy or girl: I had plenty of people ask me this. Honestly, I did want a girl. But if I had answered truthfully (instead of “Oh, I’d be happy with either”) and we ended up with a boy, then people would have remembered and/or thought I was disappointed.
DO feel free to speculate about baby’s sex. OK, for some people that’s probably a DON’T, but my wife and I found it amusing and actually noticed a trend:
- Foreign-born people almost always predicted a boy. We think because many of their cultures prefer male children. East Asian, Middle Eastern, and South Asian people almost invariably pegged Margot as a boy. (Latinos seemed to be an exception to this rule. More often than not, they went for “girl.” But that also might just mean they have a secret baby-sexing skill they’re keeping from the rest of us)
- Then again, U.S.-born people from these cultures seemed just as likely to predict a bouncing baby girl (actually in our case, most of them predicted a girl)
I probably have more DOs and DON’Ts in me, but I think this is a good stopping point. I’ll be up late plenty of nights for a while, so there’s no shortage of baby-blogging time in my foreseeable future. I’ll add new “life lessons” as I remember them.